Following on from yesterday’s post here’s 10 reasons most folks don’t eat fish – and my response as to why we should all eat more of the stuff.
1. It’s expensive
But is it?
Like most things, you (unfortunately) can’t get champagne on a cava budget – a crying shame, I know. But if you’re wise about the type of fish you’re buying it doesn’t need to hit your weekly food budget too hard. Seabass and king prawns are out but mackerel, sardines, anchovies, a decent can of tuna are all easy to come by and much more reasonable. Like for like from a quality, sustainability and nutrient value point of view fish can often trump meat £ for £ so it’s definitely worth thinking about incorporating it into main meals.
As supermarkets go, Waitrose has a great policy on sustainability in fish and, what’s more, I’ve grabbed so many ‘red sticker’ bargains from the fish section – incredible savings that will all keep when you throw them in the freezer to eat at a later date. Best days tend to be Friday nights in city centre stores or Saturday / Sunday late afternoon at out of town stores.
2. It smells
But it shouldn’t.
‘Proper’ fresh fish doesn’t smell unpleasant. If the fish has seen better days, it’s definitely giving off that smell by means of telling you not to buy / eat it.
In terms of cooking it, there are ways around a smell of fish lingering – open your windows, get the extractor fan on and remember baking fish in a foil parcel 100% stops this happening. If you’re pan frying (for that delicious crunchy finish) always use a lid. I find skin-on fish quickly flashed in a lidded casserole dish works a treat.
3. “I don’t know what to do with it”
But have you ever asked someone for help? The fishmonger is absolutely there to help – not only in the filleting, skinning etc but will also have some great cooking suggestions too. In my opinion, all fish becomes awesome in a foil parcel with some butter and herbs – dill for salmon; chives for haddock; parsley for cod.
4. It tastes fishy
In what way?
Perhaps you need some help selecting a fish that better suits your palette – again, the waiter in a restaurant or the fishmonger is there to be asked questions and should definitely be able to help you. From personal experience I find shellfish has a far stronger flavour but the members of the white fish family far less so.
5. Fish is boring / tasteless
Each of them transforms a fish dish as a wonderful side accompaniment.
You’ll also be amazed at what a squeeze of lemon, a bit of chilli or a selection of Thai spices can do too.
6. “I never know if it’s cooked properly”
Well the good news is it doesn’t take long to cook fish. Probably a lot less than you think. I tend to go with 180oC for 15 mins when in a foil parcel, pop a fork in the middle to check it’s piping and flaking apart then job’s a good ‘un. But again, if you’re not sure, ask – at the fishmonger, search for online recipes, even ask family and friends what they do with fish
7. “No one else in my family will eat it”
Have you asked them? Or just assumed this? There are lots of family-friendly fish recipes like fish pie, fish cakes that can all go down a treat. I recently made smoked mackerel and sweet potato fish cakes for a visitor that claimed she only ate chicken or beef…
8. I’m too scared to try it
You might surprise yourself by how much you like it. If you don’t want to cook an entire portion for your own dinner or risk ordering something at a restaurant you don’t think you’ll like, try a bit of someone else’s. Fish eaters are the first to extoll the virtues of our gill bearing friends and often only too happy to share – a little bit at least…
9. “The head freaks me out on my plate / there’s too many bones”
“Is it possible to have that filleted, please?” is the answer to everything. I’m the same, why would I want to have to wade through parts of the fish I’m not going to eat? I always look at it as good knife skills practice for the fishmonger / the chef – and vow every time that I’ll go on a fish course!
10. Steak’s better
When it comes to a rare grass fed fillet I’m not sure even I can argue that one but so much of the meat we eat is horrifically low grade, dreadful for the environment and equally as bad for our insides. Again, coming back to point 1. and thinking about what you get in terms of like for like, £ for £, fish is a far better choice. I often find now I’ll choose fish in a restaurant as I love the cooking techniques used and it’ll give you tonnes of ideas for recreating more adventurous fish dishes at home.